Welcome to The Cole Hotel
The New Face on North Palm Springs
By Kevin Perry
Every paradise needs its pearly gates. Oz has the Yellow Brick Road, Narnia has the wardrobe…
And now, we have The Cole Hotel.
“It’s important that we create a better image for people driving into Palm Springs,” declares Mark Weis, owner of The Cole. “Because for so long, driving into town, you didn’t feel like you were in Palm Springs until you passed Vista Chino on Palm Canyon. That’s kind of sad because there’s a mile and a half or two miles of businesses and hotels that you see before you enter that corridor. And now, they’re greeted by something nicer: The Cole Hotel. It’s one of the first things they see when they pull into town.”
Weis has been planning his approach for decades. “I think my first time here was in ’92,” he reminisces. “I came out here for a softball tournament. Fell in love with it way back then, and certainly the city has changed quite a bit over the last 25 or so years. When I was coming out here in the late 90s, when this was just a snowbird town, everything was closed between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”
Fast-forward to the present day, as Weis joins an orchestra of upgrades that continue to elevate Palm Springs. “Things have certainly changed. We now see year round tourism, events pretty much every weekend, it seems, which is wonderful for business here.”
But just because our town is making progress, that doesn’t mean we ever lose sight of our rich heritage. Exhibit A: Weis’ fabulous new resort. “The Cole has got a little pedigree,” he says with an understated chuckle. “The exterior of the property was designed by Hugh Kaptur, and you can see his influence. It was a really unique property in 1959 when it was built. One of the things that it boasted was ‘Refrigerated Air’ – that’s what they called air conditioning in 1959. It was probably one of the first properties to offer that, because that was the first thing they mentioned in the news article in 1959, The Desert Sun.”
But the Cole’s cool isn’t reserved for its interior spaces. “We encourage our guests to come out of their rooms and socialize and learn about the community and connect with others. That’s kind of the way that we’ve designed this exterior. We created a lot of areas where you can congregate with other people around open fire pits, and of course around the pool. We’ve got an outdoor area where you can eat and drink. There are a lot of common spaces where people can connect. But if you do want your privacy, you can always retreat to your room.”
Thanks to Weis and his merry band of innovators, guests are greeted by modernity before they even step foot in their rooms. “The check-in desk has been modernized. We no longer have a lobby with someone standing there and that’s their sole job. We now have a place where guests walk into a bar area and get their key card.”
Record scratch. Double take. Did someone say bar?
“They can come into the bar, have a drink, and relax before heading to their room,” Weis continues. “That kind of breaks the ice for people arriving and familiarizes them with the property. The other option is to download an app called Open Key. What that allows our guests to do is, we send them the link and they can go directly to their room and use their smartphones to unlock the doors.”
The digital doorman approach is perfect for weary travelers with mercurial itineraries. “If someone comes in late at night, that app will gain them entrance and get them right into their room.”
While tourists will be thrilled with the amenities and hospitality of The Cole, the resort’s neighbors have also embraced it. “The residents behind the property and those living up on the hill in Little Tuscany, they have nothing but positive things to say about the project,” Weis explains. “When I came in and purchased the property and bought the three lots to the north of us, it really boosted the image of the north end of Palm Springs.”
Built on the grounds of the (in)famous Bahama Hotel, The Cole ushers stability and style into the area, and other entrepreneurs have already taken note. “I’m excited to see what happens here on North Palm Canyon, to see what other developments are gonna be taking place.” As community pride swells in his voice, Weis exclaims, “It’s exciting to have new construction out here and not empty lots.”
The Cole exudes enough candy-colored midcentury mirth to cheer up its desert surroundings for miles around. “The street lighting during the holidays,” envisions Weis, “I’d love to see that continue up the street and maybe start at Racquet Drive. That might be a really nice place to start those decorations.”
As the calendar pages flip through his mind, Weis concludes, “It’s just so relaxing, Palm Springs is. Absolutely love it out here. The weather is always nice. Even when it’s hot, it’s really just a beautiful place.”
From the holidays to the heat of summer – Mark Weis truly is a man for all seasons.